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Last updateThu, 16 Jun 2022 8am

More houses for fewer students, but little progress on the clean-up for refusenik Cumbrians

Construction National blog logoIt looks as though the glimmer of hope for the coming year was just the blurred view through rose-tinted spectacles of a New Year hangover. Latest reports from industry analyst Glenigan show a decline in activity in almost all sectors in almost all regions. In particular the infrastructure sector and the London region show the worst downturns – both of which can be attributed at least in part to the spike of London 2012.

There was one sector that proved a turn-up for the book. According to the report: “Surprisingly, it was the social housing sector that bucked the trend going into the New Year. The sector was boosted by a number of student accommodation projects that began in January; however starts were still up only 1% compared to last January.”

So there you have it. The entire construction sector is being propped up by new student housing. Pity the number of students is set to fall because they can’t afford the fees. That clanking sound is my generation pulling up the ladder after we got our fees paid.

• Last month I reviewed an article by the former Chief Construction Advisor, Paul Morrell, in which he described as a major success the effort to reduce costs of public sector projects by 15-20%. A similar initiative to achieve savings for the social housing sector met with similar success: the National Change Agent for Housing programme (NCA Housing).

That programme was jointly run by Davis Langdon and international construction law firm Trowers and Hamlins – in particular that firm’s projects and construction head, Dr David Mosey. Last week it was announced Dr Mosey had been offered a Chair of Law at King’s College, London, to run its Centre for Construction Law and Dispute Resolution.

The centre can look forward with confidence to its future as a major force in the sector with Dr Mosey at its head.

• After the unedifying spectacle of Ed Davey trying to persuade Cumbrians that the goodies on offer for having a nuclear waste dump on their doorstep merit them changing their minds, a report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee has lambasted the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for handling of the decommissioning projects at Sellafield, which is where most of the waste is right now.

The chairman of the committee, Margaret Hodge MP, is reported as saying: "An enormous legacy of nuclear waste has been allowed to build up on the Sellafield site. Over decades, successive governments have failed to get to grips with this critical problem, to the point where the total lifetime cost of decommissioning the site has now reached £67.5bn, and there’s no indication of when that cost will stop rising.

“The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority believes that its decommissioning plan is credible but it has not been sufficiently tested and uncertainties remain – not least around what precisely is in the waste that lies in the legacy ponds and silos.”

So it looks like my neighbours to the north have a stark choice: accept the dump and stand a chance of getting the stuff shoved underground or put up with it lying around on the surface for the unforeseeable future.

Chris Stokes